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African Elephant

Photo Credit: Gary M. Stolz Although the African elephant is the largest and most powerful of all living land mammals, it is also amo...

Monday, August 29, 2016

Bullet Ant

Photo Credit: Hans Hillewaert
The bullet ant has the reputation of delivering the most painful sting in the insect world. Some even believe that a bullet ant sting might be the most painful sting, period. Amazingly, there's an indigenous tribe in South America that requires young men to endure these stings for 10 minutes at a time — as many as 20 times consecutively — as a rite of passage ritual. Despite the pain, the stings are not fatal and cause no permanent damage, except maybe to the psyche.

The bullet ant is active all over the forest, from the floor to the treetops. It is usually found on lianas and tree trunks close to the ground. This hunting ant eats insects, plant exudates, and sap.

Did you know? 
When provoked, bullet ants emit a warning screech and stand their ground. Their thick exoskeletons protect them from even birds and lizards.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Common Carp

Photo Credit: Type 17
The common carp is a large omnivorous fish. They have large scales, a long dorsal fin base, and two pairs of long barbels (whiskers) in its upper jaw. Native to Europe and Asia, it was intentionally introduced into Midwest waters as a game fish in the 1880s. They live in lakes, rivers, and wetlands and are often seen in spring when they spawn in shallow waters.

They feed on aquatic crustaceans, insects, worms, aquatic plants, algae and seeds.

In temperate waters, spawning take place during the summer in patches of weeds. A number of males pursue spawning females in the race to fertilize the eggs as they are shed into the water. The sticky yellowish colored eggs attach to vegetation, and are not guarded by the parents. A typical female can lay over a million eggs in one breeding season.

Did you know?
Besides fish eggs, carp eat algae, other water plants, insects, earthworms, aquatic worms, snails, mussels, crayfish, and rotifers. They also eat old dead plant parts from the bottom.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Red-breasted Toucan

Photo Credit: Jairmore Irafotografia
The red-breasted toucan or green-billed toucan is a South American toucan that occurs naturally throughout central, southern and eastern Brazil, eastern Paraguay and far north-eastern Argentina. It inhabits Atlantic forests.

The Red-breasted Toucan's name is derived from the large area of red feathers found on its belly, while its chest is orangy-yellow with yellow sides.

The bill is mostly pale green and this toucan is, therefore, sometimes referred to as the Green-billed Toucan.

Like all of their other activities, nesting happens high up in hollow areas in trees. The bill is not effective for digging or any other type of extensive excavation work and so they must rely on holes already formed by other means. The nests are not lined, but the two to four shiny white eggs that are laid each year rest on a few wood chips created while enlarging the opening or on various kinds of regurgitated seeds collected for this purpose. Parents share equally in incubation duties, but rarely sit on the nest for more than an hour at a time and the eggs are often left uncovered. Both parents share in feeding fruit to the babies for up to 8 weeks.

Did you know?
Babies have pads on their elbows that protect their feet by keeping them elevated until they fledge.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Pacific Giant Salamander

Photo Credit: Jeffrey Marsten
The Pacific giant salamander is the largest terrestrial salamander in North America. Although it lives in a limited area of British Columbia’s southwest, the Chilliwack River watershed, this species ranges along the U.S. Pacific coast from Washington to northern California, where it may be known as the Coastal Giant Salamander. Known for its “bark” and its bite if attacked, this amphibian has two phases of life: the larval state in an aquatic environment; and the metamorphosed adult state, in either an aquatic or terrestrial environment.

The smooth skin of an adult often has a light tan, copper, gold or grey marbling against a dark brown or black ground color. In British Columbia, the marbling effect is absent from the throat and underside of the limbs. It has four legs and a strong, distinct head with large eyes; it has teeth in both jaws. The tail is not round, but flattened laterally, like an eel, which aids in swimming.

Did you know?
The adult Pacific giant salamander leads a sedentary life, but can move a distance of 10.8–54 yards at a time in a short period of activity. Active at night, during the warm rainy season, the salamander can move across the forest floor, occasionally climb a short distance up the bark of trees, and burrow to a depth of 20 feet.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Earthworm

Photo Credit: commons.wikimedia.org
An earthworm is a tube-shaped, segmented worm.arthworms are commonly found living in soil, feeding on live and dead organic matter. An earthworm's digestive system runs through the length of its body. It conducts respiration through its skin. It has a double transport system composed of coelomic fluid that moves within the fluid-filled coelom and a simple, closed blood circulatory system. It has a central and a peripheral nervous system. The central nervous system consists of two ganglia above the mouth, one on either side, connected to a nerve cord running back along its length to motor neurons and sensory cells in each segment. Large numbers of chemoreceptors are concentrated near its mouth. Circumferential and longitudinal muscles on the periphery of each segment enable the worm to move. Similar sets of muscles line the gut, and their actions move the digesting food toward the worm's anus.

Did you know?
Earthworms are hermaphrodites—each individual carries both male and female sex organs. They lack either an internal skeleton or exoskeleton, but maintain their structure with fluid-filled coelom chambers that function as a hydrostatic skeleton.


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